Here's hoping that Helm's Deep is a massive critical and commercial success, keeping LotRO in business for years to come.
I was doing some timeline calculating for another thread today and realized that if you've completed the Epic Books to their current end, we're sitting at February 30, 3019 in game. Everything we've done, from the introduction quests for the Shadows of Angmar to the present, has taken about five months of in-game time. In the month March, which will probably begin with Helm's Deep, we see the Battle of Helm's Deep, the Battle of Pelannor Fields, the Battle of Dale, the destruction of Ring... essentially the ending of the story. Time has always been relative in LotRO, but it seems to me that we're reaching a pretty pivotal moment with the *next* expansion.
As I see it there are two likely candidates: Gondor and northern Rhovanion (the rest of Mirkwood, Erebor, Dale, ect.).
With Helm's Deep presumably ending the Rohan storyline, it makes sense for us to proceed to Gondor. That said, however, once the events in Gondor are completed, I don't see a whole lot of point in heading back north to Rhovanion. The Pelannor to the Morannon make sense to be the "endgame" of the game. I sincerely hope that they'll continue on after that, fleshing out the Tower Hills, Southfarthing, Grey Havens, ect. that have been marked, but unreachable for six years.
Personally, I believe the next expansion will take us north into Rhovanion. It will probably release next Fall/Winter to coincide with the final Hobbit film. I would guess the epic quests would entail rallying the north against Mordor; the Wood Elves, Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain, and Men of Dale. It would probably capstone with the Battle of Dale, after which we'd head to Gondor and do something similar. The only issue is that Dale and Pelannor happen simultaneously, but with LotRO zones occurring in a bubble it's doable. After all the entire expansion of Riders of Rohan occured in four days... and you thought you had a busy week.
So what are your thoughts? Will we bash on into Gondor? Will we head north to the Lonely Mountain? Or do think something completely different?